Linda Saliamonas-Avery, from St. Augustine, Florida, began researching her family tree some time ago and ended up with mountains of information. In August 2009, she decided to commit this to print with her own, custom-designed photo book. This is the story in her own words.
When my mother-in-law died, I inherited all of her pictures, which included those of her uncle. Then when my husband died, I actually realized that mine was the oldest generation in the family and once my husband’s cousin, who was born in Estonia, died, no one alive would know who the pictures were of, and the old family history would be gone. So, I decided, with my cousin’s help (by computer) that I would sort and label the pictures, and create an album for each of my children.
I began a process of e-mailing my cousin pictures and getting back identifications and stories. I also engaged the family and brought in additional information (finding a new cousin by that process).
Ultimately, I acquired a great many pictures and discovered that I couldn’t find a reasonable way to create a photo album. I was in possession of so much history, I needed a better way to give it structure, and I began searching for a method of expression. I found that in your website.
Because I had so much data, it was a huge undertaking to enter and sort the pictures into your site, and I made several false starts. Additionally, I kept getting side-tracked by attempting to research members of the family as I worked. We are a Jewish family that was decimated by the Holocaust, and unfortunately I was never successful in finding records. But, again, I am not adept with computer searches, and it was actually my intent to provide the basic information that would allow future generations to search records that might not now be available.
MyHeritage.com produced beautiful and informative charts that helped us understand relationships, particularly in view of the fact that my husband’s grandmother married her paternal uncle, and my grandparents were first cousins. And I was ultimately easily able to print and have bound, charts with pictures for each family constellation in the extended family, and mail each of them their own family tree (well, at least 1/2 of their tree), thus creating a network of sharing within the family that has since provided me with the autobiography of my husband’s great-aunt to add to my material.
Since a family tree is never finished, I stopped at the point that was comfortable to me—I believe I had over 500 pictures, and I looked for a way to commit the material to book form. I wanted it to be hands-on and not just available by computer. Since MyHeritage.com didn’t at this time have a Timebook facility, I started exploring on-line book publishers, and chose one that seemed workable for my material—one that gave me options on setting up my pages, and allowed me to title pages and families and include those wonderful family charts, along with some of the stories.
I decided to place the information by family, as well as I could. The publishing program allowed me to make changes and add or subtract pages and move things around. And the book took shape and form.
The entire project took approximately a year; I don’t know how many hours I spent, but it was considerable. When I was finished, I sent my mother-in-law’s uncle’s pictures to his great-grandchildren, to whom they really belonged.
Each of my children has a book and a printed, bound copy of their family tree. It was truly a labor of love and I feel very pleased that I was able to give this gift to the wonderful family that I entered 49 years ago.